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Dangers of Bath Aids

Bath aids are used to support infants while in a bath

Baby bath seats and other aids are designed to keep a baby’s head up and out of the water, leaving a carer’s hands free to wash their infant and often easing the strain on the carers’ back. A range of bath aids specific to the age and size of a baby are available, and they include bath seats, cradles, hammocks, recliners, supports and rings. They are generally made of plastic, rubber or foam.

Infant drowning in baby bath aids is a tragedy that many may be unaware of

Records of the Royal Lifesaving Society of Australia show that six babies less than 13 months old have drowned in a bath aid in Australia over the past decade; with many more babies have been involved in a near drowning or immersion accident in a bath aid.

These incidents have occurred when the child has been left unsupervised in a bath aid while the carer has attended to other activities including answering the phone or door, retrieving their child’s clothes, or even watching television.

An infant in a bath, irrespective of whether they are in a bath aid, requires constant supervision, and the use of a bath aid should not lull a carer into a false sense of security about their supervisory obligations at bath time and the safety of the unattended child in the bath.

The following scenarios are typical of tragedies associated with the use of a bath aid:
– Bath aid tipping over – especially common with aids having a slip-resistant base where the suction caps have not adhered properly to the bathtub surface
– Baby comes out of the seat or is found slumped over the bath aid
– Bath aid does not provide adequate support – infants are top heavy and very often do not have the neck strength to move their head away and out of the water.
– Entrapment in the seat often a result of rough movement or another child tipping over the aid (approximately 30% of bath aid drowning victims are in the bathtub with another child).
– tipping of the bath aid – they should be regularly and carefully checked for defects or worn/broken parts.

If movement or tipping of the bath aid occurs while it is being used it should be immediately discarded

The Trade Practices Baby Bath Aids’ Regulation effective May 2005 prescribes the mandatory standard for baby bath aids. This standard was introduced following 5 child drownings linked to baby bath aids, and it includes various product and warning label requirements for bath aids and their packaging. Although bath aids are useful, it is vital that parents remember that there is a risk of drowning associated with their use, and that babies left unsupervised in these products have drowned.

Constant supervision of the child in a bath aid is essential and can help avoid an unnecessary tragedy

To further improve the safety of your child in and around water we recommend starting swimming lessons as early as in infancy. Hampton Swim School provides swimming lessons for infants and babies on the South Side of Brisbane.

© 2010 Julia Ham/Hampton Swim School Pty Ltd